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AC Lounge Access - physical locations and rules (2022 onwards)

Old Aug 16, 2022, 12:18 pm
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Last edit by: Adam Smith
This wiki will attempt to cover the ability to access various lounges operated by AC. Since many travellers are not familiar with the layout of Canadian airports, we will detail both physical access as well as rules.


Overview of lounges

AC has three types of lounges:
  • Maple Leaf Lounges (“MLLs”): essentially, regular lounges
  • Café: café-style lounge with limited access and grab-and-go
  • Signature Suites: essentially, only for long-haul international business class passengers
Additionally, AC shares an arrivals lounge with UA at LHR for eligible customers.

Locations & Physical Access

Lounges are in the following locations:



Notes:
  • YYZ Transborder: there are 2 MLLs, a full MLL right after US CBP and a second, small MLL near the regional gates
  • YYC Transborder: AC provides access to the Aspire lounge for status and J pax (no passes/credit cards)
  • YTZ Café: the Café at YTZ is an Aspire lounge (accessible via Priority Pass and other programs) co-branded by AC
  • EWR: the “MLL” is a co-branding of the United lounge in Terminal A; access rules are not entirely clear


Note that most of the Canadian airports used by AC have separate areas for domestic, transborder ("TB", i.e. to the US), and international flights. MLLs are often referred to based on which area of the terminal they’re in, e.g. “YYZ Dom” is the domestic lounge in YYZ, YUL Intl is the international lounge at YUL. Except when connecting from a domestic flight to a TB/international one, you can only use a lounge in the area from which your flight departs. For instance, a passenger flying from YYZ to LGA cannot use the YYZ Dom MLL as CATSA will not allow them to access the domestic wing; a passenger flying YXE-YYZ-LGA could use the YYZ Dom MLL as they will already be in the domestic area on arrival.

YYZ, YVR, and YUL have segregated international departures areas. The international MLLs cannot be accessed before domestic flights. In other locations, a "domestic" MLL can also be accessed before international flights.

Please note that while the US is a separate country, it is NOT an "international" destination in the way most Canadian airports and AC are set up. You can NEVER access the international lounges when departing on a flight to the US. (Passengers connecting in YVR between a domestic and US flight and following the connections path will enter the international departures area prior to the US area and although can physically access the international MLL, you will not be admitted and will be directed to the US area).

Lounges in transborder areas are after US customs pre-clearance, and can only be accessed by customers travelling to the US.


Access Rules

NEW Effective June 13, 2023
Access to Maple Leaf Lounges, Air Canada Cafés, and Signature Suites will be limited to three hours prior to scheduled departure time. Please note that this policy does not apply during flight connections or flight delays.


While it is not published at the time of writing this, the internal policy now exempts SEs and most passengers with reported disabilities (eg WCHR) from the three hour rule for Maple Leaf Lounges, but not the Signature Suite.

MLLs

Can be accessed for customers holding a SAME DAY DEPARTING boarding pass (for a flight operated by AC or another *A member) based on:
  • Status
    • Aeroplan 35K (domestic and transborder only; no guests; until June 1 2023 - no access on or after)
    • Aeroplan 50K and up (spouse/partner, dependent children, and one guest)
    • Star Alliance Gold (one guest)
    • VA Velocity Platinum or Gold (one guest)
    • Emirates SkyWards Platinum or Gold (one guest)
  • Class of service:
    • Business class (on AC or another *A carrier)
    • Premium rouge
  • Passes(passes may only be valid for certain locations, e.g. domestic/TB - Assume your pass is not valid for any International lounge)
    • Given out to those with AC status
    • Given out to certain credit card holders
    • Purchased directly from AC as an add-on to the flight, either in advance or at the lounge
  • Credit cards (no passes required, only for MLLs located within Canada and the US. No access to LHR, CDG, or FRA lounges):
    • TD VIP (one guest through 31 December 2023)
    • CIBC VIP (one guest through 31 December 2023)
    • Amex Aeroplan Reserve cards

Domestic MLLs in Canada, and MLLs in the USA, can also be accessed by those ARRIVING on an Air Canada mainline, rouge or Express flight, for those holding 50K status and higher.


Signature Suites

Signature Suites require both (a) an eligible fare and (b) an eligible destination. Your flight must be a flight operated by Air Canada that is departing internationally from Toronto or Vancouver. It doesn’t matter whether you bought the ticket through AC or if you’re on an AC codeshare, or if your itinerary has other international connections. Unless your flight is operated by Air Canada, and is advertised as Signature Class, and is departing internationally from Toronto or Vancouver, you’re not eligible. The only exception is Emirates First Class - see below.

Eligible fares:
  • Paid business class (originally booked in J, C, D, Z, or P classes)
  • Business Class (Flexible) Aeroplan tickets - note that only Air Canada can ticket Flexible reward tickets; the website may incorrectly display a partner reward as Flexible
  • First Class (Flexible) Aeroplan tickets when travelling on an Air Canada segment in Business Class
  • Emirates First Class (one guest)

Eligible destinations:
  • South America (Colombia and south)
  • Europe
  • Asia
  • Australia and New Zealand

NOT accessible to:
  • Passengers in business class on any type of upgrades (eUpgrades, Last-Minute Upgrades, bid upgrades, Star Alliance Upgrade Awards)
  • Anyone booked in Business Class (Lowest) reward tickets
  • Anyone booked on a reward ticket through a partner airline, e.g. United MileagePlus, Miles & More, etc
  • Passengers flying internationally with Air Canada, but who are not departing on an international Air Canada flight from Toronto or Vancouver. Example, if you are arriving on an international flight, but connecting to a US or domestic flight - you will NOT have access to the suite.

Cafés

Can be accessed by those with a departing domestic boarding pass (no arrivals benefit for the Café) based on:
  • Status
    • Aeroplan 50K and up (spouse/partner, dependent children, and one guest)
    • Star Alliance Gold (one guest)
    • Emirates SkyWards Platinum or Gold (one guest)
  • Class of service:
    • Business class (there is no business class service from YTZ, but a business class boarding pass for the subsequent flight enables access)
    • Premium rouge
  • Credit cards:
    • TD VIP (one guest through 31 December 2023)
    • CIBC VIP (one guest through 31 December 2023)
    • Amex Aeroplan Reserve cards
Passengers arriving on a domestic flight with a connection to a US or international destination, although you can physically access the Café, you will not be admitted. eGates have been updated to enforce the access policy.

While it is not published, the internal policy exempts SEs from that requirement, so you should be admitted.

LHR Arrivals Lounge

AC shares an arrivals lounge with UA at LHR, accessible to the following customers upon exiting the baggage hall in Terminal 2:
  • Business Class (Including upgrades to J)
  • Aeroplan Super Elite (one guest) when arriving on an Air Canada flight
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AC Lounge Access - physical locations and rules (2022 onwards)

Old Jun 13, 2023, 7:28 am
  #856  
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: YYZ
Programs: TK *G
Posts: 3,126
I am not sure if there is any statistics backing this decision, or it’s just different departments working in silos, coming up with a non-effective solution to a non-existent problem.
leoo likes this.
songsc is offline  
Old Jun 13, 2023, 7:32 am
  #857  
 
Join Date: Oct 2022
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Originally Posted by capedreamer
Huh? I assume the 3-hour limit is calculated from the scheduled departure time, so it's easily enforced at entry. If a flight is delayed, obviously AC is not going to kick impacted passengers out of the lounge.
I believe they are debating a hypothetical rule to allow you to stay in the lounge for exactly 3 hours (anytime before the flight on the same day) and how to enforce it.
Changeup2000 is offline  
Old Jun 13, 2023, 7:34 am
  #858  
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: MEX
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Originally Posted by rankourabu
What statistical model?
The poster suggested auto billing dwellers.
With ACs stellar OTP, people are often forced to linger in the MLL longer, why should tney be responsible for exceeding the 3 hour limit?
Originally Posted by songsc
I am not sure if there is any statistics backing this decision, or it’s just different departments working in silos, coming up with a non-effective solution to a non-existent problem.
Folks, can we please stop speculating about a non-issue and inadvertently spreading false information? The policy announcement from AC is quite clear:

Effective June 13, 2023, access to Maple Leaf Lounges, AirCanada Cafés, and Signature Suites will be limited to three hours prior to scheduled departure time. Please note that this policy does not apply during flight connections or flight delays.


The 3-hour limit is calculated from the scheduled departure time. Connections and flight delays are not subject to this limit.


Originally Posted by Changeup2000
I believe they are debating a hypothetical rule to allow you to stay in the lounge for exactly 3 hours (anytime before the flight on the same day) and how to enforce it.
And what is the purpose of debating a hypothetical rule and possibly misleading newcomers who are not following the entire thread? As [MENTION=10133669]warrens[/MENTION] already acknowledged, this speculation all started with an careless reading of the new policy on his part.
capedreamer is offline  
Old Jun 13, 2023, 7:41 am
  #859  
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: YYZ
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Posts: 3,126
I am talking about the 3 hour before departure time policy. How many people enter the lounge more than 3 hours before scheduled departure time at the origin airport?
songsc is offline  
Old Jun 13, 2023, 7:47 am
  #860  
 
Join Date: Oct 2022
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Originally Posted by capedreamer
And what is the purpose of debating a hypothetical rule and possibly misleading newcomers who are not following the entire thread? As [MENTION=10133669]warrens[/MENTION] already acknowledged, this speculation all started with an careless reading of the new policy on his part.
Looking back at this thread, probably it was my fault in the beginning to comment that the real rule is not friendly to an elite seeking Lounge access while waiting for an early standby to clear.

Last edited by Changeup2000; Jun 13, 2023 at 8:07 am
Changeup2000 is offline  
Old Jun 13, 2023, 7:54 am
  #861  
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Programs: AC SE
Posts: 1,535
I could see the implementation of automated gates making the 3-hour rule easy to enforce. Hopefully the gates just wouldn’t open unless the passenger is within the 3-hour window.
TheCanuckian is offline  
Old Jun 13, 2023, 8:55 am
  #862  
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: YYZ
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Originally Posted by songsc
I am talking about the 3 hour before departure time policy. How many people enter the lounge more than 3 hours before scheduled departure time at the origin airport?
Clearly enough that it is a part of the problem. Probably not an issue at 2:00pm on a Saturday but clearly an issue at 5:00pm on a Sunday.
I love all of the annecdotal comments, clearly AC knows when people are arriving (they do scan your BP) and has seen a trend.
We have all gone early in the past to get work done before a flight. However, have we given a thought to those who also needed the workspace while we sit there for 3 hours, eating lunch while we send emails?
I personnaly support the change.
172pilot is offline  
Old Jun 13, 2023, 8:57 am
  #863  
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Originally Posted by TheCanuckian
I could see the implementation of automated gates making the 3-hour rule easy to enforce. Hopefully the gates just wouldn’t open unless the passenger is within the 3-hour window.
It's a lot more complicated than that.

I remember a ~1200 SFO-YYZ that was significantly delayed, and I was rebooked on a ~1400. It's 1000, my flight is at 1400. "My flight" is not delayed. Do I have access? Should I have access? Does the system think I have access?
canadiancow is offline  
Old Jun 13, 2023, 9:02 am
  #864  
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
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Originally Posted by TheCanuckian
I could see the implementation of automated gates making the 3-hour rule easy to enforce. Hopefully the gates just wouldn’t open unless the passenger is within the 3-hour window.
Not opening is merely a suggestion to the miscreant. They would just scan over and over again thinking there is a malfunction.

For true enforcement I would like to see the gates open, but then immediately and forcefully slam shut along with sad trombone sounds being played.
zorn is offline  
Old Jun 13, 2023, 9:13 am
  #865  
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
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Originally Posted by canadiancow
It's a lot more complicated than that.

I remember a ~1200 SFO-YYZ that was significantly delayed, and I was rebooked on a ~1400. It's 1000, my flight is at 1400. "My flight" is not delayed. Do I have access? Should I have access? Does the system think I have access?
Until they lock the tongs and taps behind a scanner, who cares? Just don't leave.
RangerNS is offline  
Old Jun 13, 2023, 9:51 am
  #866  
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Originally Posted by RangerNS
Until they lock the tongs and taps behind a scanner, who cares? Just don't leave.
I had been rebooked before I got to the airport.

One of those scenarios where I had organized my day around the flight (but not expecting to spend 3+ hours at the airport).

Even right now, this morning, I thought I might have a reason to be at the airport before T-3. But here I am, at home, in my underwear, at T-2:50.

As someone who doesn't have many meetings (or work travel), there just aren't many scenarios where getting there that early is even more convenient for me, and certainly none that I recall where I have no other option.

I'm much more likely to step out of the Uber after boarding has begun than get there with enough time for an hour in the lounge.
HerpaYvr likes this.
canadiancow is offline  
Old Jun 13, 2023, 11:50 am
  #867  
 
Join Date: May 2023
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Originally Posted by 172pilot
We have all gone early in the past to get work done before a flight. However, have we given a thought to those who also needed the workspace while we sit there for 3 hours, eating lunch while we send emails?
This is why I think Air Canada needs to rethink what these spaces are for.

MLL is marketed as a "lounge"; the core pitch is "relax before take-off". Business needs are totally secondary.
But a lot of us want to get work done instead, and we would be better served by an environment that is set up for this purpose.
warrens is offline  
Old Jun 13, 2023, 12:19 pm
  #868  
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Ideally YOW, but probably not
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Originally Posted by warrens
This is why I think Air Canada needs to rethink what these spaces are for.

MLL is marketed as a "lounge"; the core pitch is "relax before take-off". Business needs are totally secondary.
But a lot of us want to get work done instead, and we would be better served by an environment that is set up for this purpose.
One of the reasons I like the Cafe in YYZ, and was heartened by the news of more of them - much better space to get work done in than the normal domestic lounges.

But Air Canada isn't obliged to provide us with coworking space for an indefinite period of time. If I am on the evening flight to YVR out of YOW tonight should I be able to head to YOW now and just hang out in the lounge all afternoon working on my laptop? As others have said if AC has the data that this as an issue that is consuming lounge space and causing overcrowding then I don't have a problem with the rule. For the occasional time where I might have been there that early I can work out alternate plans.
RatherBeInYOW is offline  
Old Jun 13, 2023, 12:34 pm
  #869  
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: YYZ
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Posts: 3,126
It would be great if AC publish the data behind this decision, on how many people actually enter the lounge 3 hours before scheduled departure time at origin airport.

Are the root causes of lounge overcrowding AC selling way too many status to stay afloat during Covid, poor OTP forcing people to spend more time in lounge, not expanding lounge capacity, or travellers using lounge as co-working space?
songsc is offline  
Old Jun 13, 2023, 1:15 pm
  #870  
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
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It's not just space, it's also consumption. 3+ hours is going to be more than just a quick trip to the lounge for a cookie and beer.

It could very well be AC has no hard data and are just grasping at straws here, expecting that chopping off two long tails be worth while.
RangerNS is offline  

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